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For Immediate Release
July 29, 2014
Contact: Sandy Cunningham

5th Circuit Three-Judge Panel Strikes Down Mississippi Admitting Privilege Law
New 5th Circuit Decision Will Not Affect Implementation of Louisiana's HB 388 

NEW ORLEANS, La.-Today, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated a Mississippi law that is similar to Louisiana's HB 388 requiring abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  

A three-judge panel, which heard the appeal in April, ruled 2-1 in favor of the facility, saying the law "imposes an undue burden on a woman's right to choose an abortion in Mississippi, and is therefore unconstitutional." In the ruling, Judge E. Grady Jolly argued that "Mississippi may not shift its obligation to respect the established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state."

The Jackson Women's Health Organization has been fighting the 2012 Mississippi law requiring that doctors at abortion clinics must gain admitting privileges at local hospitals. When the abortion physicians failed to get admitting privileges, the state attempted to enforce the law and shut the facility's doors. The organization filed suit against the law arguing that closing the state's only facility was unconstitutional.

After a basic review of the decision, Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper said,"We are confident that this decision will not impact the implementation of Louisiana HB 388, set to go into effect on Sept. 1."

Dorinda Bordlee, Senior Counsel for the Bioethics Defense Fund, architect of HB 388, and close ally of Louisiana Right to Life, noted the split 2-1 decision and indicated that the entire 5th Circuit could hear the case on appeal.  Bordlee said,  "The split decision disregards the health and safety of women; however, it is not a signal that all admitting privileges laws are unconstitutional.  Because today's ruling was not unanimous and included a dissenting opinion, it is very likely the full panel of the 5th Circuit will review the Mississippi case.  The unique situation in Mississippi limits the impact of this ruling, and I am confident the full 5th Circuit will act to uphold the right of states such as Louisiana to protect women's safety."

In March, a three-judge panel with the 5th Circuit unanimously upheld a similar Texas law.

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